Phase 34 - A Shadowed Alliance

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY

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Phase 34 - A Shadowed Alliance

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December 21st, CE 73 - ZAFT battleship Minerva, Pacific Ocean

Technically, Aoma Vedlow wasn稚 supposed to be on the deck of the Minerva in the early morning hours, watching the sunrise. But she doubted anyone would care at this point between Shinn and Ruumari and their combined breaches of protocol, running the gamut from unauthorized launches to treason, standing around on the deck watching the sunrise was fairly innocuous.

She leaned against the railing and stared at the steadily rising sun, wondering how her life had come to this point. She was a soldier with honors, a ZAFT Red, piloting a Gundam of all things, on the flagship of ZAFTand yet her best friend was sprinting headlong down the path to his own destruction, ZAFT was losing the war, and the flagship of ZAFT was on a miserable mission to track down a traitor who, it seemed, was undefeatable.

She wondered what her parents would think, back on Januarius 3. She and Ruumari had grown up together, gone through their training together, and now they had fought together, but Ruumari was spiraling out of control, and everything was going with it.

And the worst part, she supposed, was that she had specifically asked Ruumari to come here and talk to her. And yet he was nowhere to be found.

滴e痴 probably still training with Rey, she said, staring at the sea in disappointment. 典hat値l be his downfall.

She looked out towards the patch of horizon that the Minerva was sailing towards. Somewhere out there, she assumed, was the pirate ship with Shinn Asuka on board. He was waiting for them, but they weren稚 going to attack, at least not for a while. The pirate ship and the Orb Raiders were steaming headlong into a confrontation with the Takemikazuchi Fleet of the United Emirates of Orb. Captain Gladys had no real interest in picking a fight with Orb or its finest fleet, and was content to let the pirates and their strange new bedfellows get into a mess themselves. Perhaps they could slip in during the chaos and pick off the traitor Asuka before anyone knew what was coming.

Aoma, however, found herself not caring. Shinn was going to destroy Ruumari; she knew it, and dreaded their next confrontation for it.

Suddenly that Destroy Gundam was looking a lot more inviting.

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Pacific Ocean

The Impulse Gundam took off with a flash, and inside the cockpit, Shinn clenched his fists angrily around the controls. They were getting paid that was the only reason they would even be bothering to launch this attack but as he soared through the dawn skies towards the Takemikazuchi Fleet, he could not help but feel as though he were in the wrong place at the wrong time. What business did he have attacking Orb? They weren稚 his enemy. Kira Yamato, the pilot of the Freedom, was his enemy.

鉄hinn, he heard Chris痴 voice say harshly. He looked up, finding Chris痴 105 Dagger, sporting a Jet Striker, drop into formation in front of him. 典he Orb Raiders want you and Stella to go with them.

展e値l protect the ship, George added, as his CGUE drifted in next to the Impulse. 泥on稚 worry about us.

迭oger, Shinn answered reluctantly. He glanced at the Gaia; Stella nodded to him, and the two mobile suits peeled off and angled towards the Megami痴 mobile suit squadron. 展hat could they want with us? he murmured.

鉄hinn, Athrun interrupted, as the Justice Gundam pulled in next to the Impulse. 展e池e going after the flagship. We want you to tag along.

展ho痴 層e?樗 Shinn asked, arching a dubious eyebrow.

笛ust a few of us, Athrun said. 展e池e going to take down Jona Roma Seiran once and for all.

Shinn cast a skeptical glance at the fleet up ahead. 展e have to get to him first, he warned.

Athrun allowed himself a thin smile. 典hat痴 why we池e bringing you.

Shinn bit back a curse. Of course that was why they were bringing him. He was a Newtype, after all.

添ou壇 better make sure you pay us, he snarled, cutting the transmission.

Up ahead, the Takemikazuchi Fleet was showing no signs of slowing down, but they weren稚 changing course either. Shinn consulted his map and blinked in surprise, as their projected course pointed them towards the United Emirates of Orb. They were headed back home at breakneck speed. He glanced up at the fleet itself, watching as its mobile suits took off from the decks of the vessels. At the center of it all was the flagship, the Takemikazuchi, where Jona Roma Seiran was waiting.

Shinn narrowed his eyes at the whole spectacle.

There was a flash of reflected light; Shinn squinted angrily, shielding his eyes with his hand, as the Akatsuki shot forward, wielding a massive curved sword.

溺urasame units, Shinn heard the voice of Cagalli Yula Athha call out, 徒eep back and prevent the enemy mobile suits from reaching the Megami.

The Murasame units peeled off, hanging back in front of the Megami and the Kasselheim. Shinn cast an angry glance at the Akatsuki, squeezing his eyes shut as it caught the light of the sun and reflected it all right back in his face. As the Akatsuki moved ahead, he glared after it. Cagalli had to be the center of attention what kind of unit was painted bright gold? That thing was asking to get shot down.

The Orb warships began to open fire with ranging shots, as their mobile suits formed up. The artillery shells flashed by the Orb Raider mobile suits harmlessly. The Aegis Gundam moved up next to the Akatsuki.

鉄plit up and attack your assigned targets on my mark, a grizzled voice said. 鉄hinn, Stella, you two accompany Athrun and Cagalli to the Takemikazuchi. You致e got a date with Jona and we壇 hate for you to miss it.

Shinn scowled at the Aegis and cast a glare at the Justice. These damn Orb Raiders acted like they knew him or something.

The enemy Murasames up ahead opened fire; Shinn narrowed his eyes at them and deflected their shots with his shield. There was only one way through this, and with that thought, he armed the beam rifle and clenched his fist over the trigger.

展e池e going to skim over the surface and try to slip in beneath their line of fire, Athrun said quickly. 擢ollow us.

The Justice and Akatsuki descended down towards the ocean surface; Shinn glanced at Stella and the Impulse and Gaia followed. Shinn glanced up above himself, as the Orb Raiders Murasames opened fire on their enemy counterparts, and the Gundams punched their way through. He turned his attention to the fleet, rapidly approaching.

典hey池e not changing their course or their speed, Athrun noted grimly.

鄭nd they池e heading straight for Orb, Shinn added. 典hey池e heading home as fast as possible.

鉄omething must have happened, Cagalli concluded. 釘ut we池e not going to let that stop us. We値l ask Jona himself if we have to.

Shinn snorted dismissively. Easy for her to say.

A squadron of Murasames swept down behind the four charging Gundams. Athrun moved to attack them, but a bright yellow beam swept over them, annihilating all three before they could open fire. Overhead, the Buster Gundam held up three fingers with its left hand and took off. Up ahead, the ships turned their guns on the four charging Gundams, forcing them all to take cover behind their shields.

展e値l have to get by the rearguard to get to the flagship, Athrun grunted, as the Justice shook from a shell impact.

Shinn scowled. He would have to earn his pay somehow.

展e値l deal with that, he snapped. 鉄tella, come on.

The Impulse and Gaia took off with a roar. Behind them, inside the Akatsuki, Cagalli blinked.

展hat痴 with him? she asked, glancing suspiciously at Athrun.

的 don稚 know, Athrun admitted with a shrug. 鏑et痴 just hope he痴 in a better mood today.

Inside the Impulse, Shinn felt his anger vanish as he dove into his element. The first ship, a Kuraokami-class cruiser, came into his sights; Shinn narrowed his eyes, picking off the ship痴 main gun with a beam rifle shot. He charged in close, cutting down a swarm of missiles with a burst of CIWS fire, and lunged onto the Kuraokami痴 deck, drawing a beam saber. The ship tried to turn its guns on the Impulse; an instant later, Shinn stabbed out the bridge with his saber and perforated the exposed interior with CIWS fire. The ship rumbled violently; Shinn leapt into the air, deflecting another wave of CIWS fire from another ship as the Kuraokami exploded.

The next ship, an Aegis-class, turned its main gun on the Impulse. But before it could fire, its main gun went sailing into the water, and a moment later, the ship broke in two with a fiery blast. The Gaia lunged past in quadruped mode, landing on another Kuraokami and crushing its weapons. Shinn swept in behind the Gaia, seeing a plan taking shape, and darted down towards the ship, ripping it open with his beam saber. As seawater gushed into the wounded cruiser, Shinn turned to follow the Gaia. It landed with a crunch on the deck of another Aegis and tore the ship痴 side in two with its beam cannons. As the Gaia took off, Shinn rocketed down into the Aegis痴 open hangar and drove his saber to the hilt into the ship痴 deck. As the ship began to explode, he took off again, towards another Kuraokami. Stella blew off the main gun with a well-placed beam cannon volley; Shinn somersaulted over the wounded ship, slashing it in two with his beam saber and striking the missile magazines. As the crippled warship exploded into the air, Shinn looked up towards the next array of ships. They were getting close to the Takemikazuchi.

A volley of beam blasts came down into the ocean next to him. The Gaia glanced up into the air as Shinn backed away behind his shield, and they both leapt aside as the fleet痴 Murasames returned with a devastating salvo of beam blasts. The Gaia transformed back into its mobile suit mode, smacking a pair of beam shots aside and returning fire with its beam rifle. Shinn dove along the surface of the water, switching back to his beam rifle, dodging beam blasts from a trio of Murasames overhead, and backflipped over another Kuraokami cruiser, using it as cover and sniping one of the Murasames out of the air. The smoldering mobile suit plowed into the cruiser, blasting it apart, and Shinn backed away, firing back at the remaining two Murasames as they watched the cruiser sink in disbelief.

滴aving fun without us, Shinn? Athrun asked, as the Justice Gundam dropped in with a beam cannon volley, wiping out two more Murasames. The Justice stormed forward, slithering past a wave of missiles from another wing of Murasames and shooting them down before they could turn themselves around. Shinn narrowed his eyes, picking another Murasame out of the air.

Waves of missiles came slamming down into the Orb ships, and Shinn dove up into the air, rising above the smoke. He glanced behind himself, finding the Duel and Buster Gundams floating nearby, their missile launchers open. The Buster flamboyantly combined its guns and sank another Kuraokami, while the Duel picked off a wing of incoming Murasames.

典his is too easy, Shinn snorted. A Murasame came shrieking down towards him; he somersaulted over it and fired a beam shot into its back as it shot by.

A pair of red beam blasts streaked by, smashing another pair of Murasames, and the Akatsuki shot by in a blinding flash.

展e still have to get to the flagship! Cagalli shouted. 鼎ome on!

Shinn cursed under his breath and leapt up into the air, the Justice and Gaia right behind. A desperate Murasame swept in behind the Akatsuki; as Cagalli wheeled around to face it, the Murasame opened fire. Shinn痴 eyes widened in disbelief

only to watch the beam bounce harmlessly against the Akatsuki痴 golden armor. Cagalli raised her rifle and picked the Murasame out of the air.

展hat the hell was that?! Shinn exclaimed.

典he Akatsuki痴 special feature, Athrun explained. 的t has anti-beam armor, which is why it痴 bright gold.

Shinn scowled. It figured that they壇 give Cagalli the mobile suit that nobody could shoot down.

Another Murasame slid in behind the Justice to open fire; a moment later, the Aegis Gundam, in mobile armor mode, slammed its arms around the Murasame and fired its Scylla cannon, wiping the Murasame out. Shinn ducked below a volley of missiles; behind him, the Aile Strike Gundam cut them down with a CIWS burst.

Shinn narrowed his eyes as the warships drew closer to the flagship, putting up a withering barrage to keep the enemy at bay. He scowled; there was only so much good they could do while floating there unable to move. He switched to his beam saber and charged ahead.

鉄hinn! Athrun exclaimed. 展hat are you doing?

徹pening a path! Shinn shouted back.

Overhead, a Murasame was angling down towards him. Shinn narrowed his eyes; the seed burst before him, and he rocketed up into the air. With a crash, he landed on top of the Murasame, and angled himself down towards an Aegis. It tried to pull up; Shinn slammed the Impulse痴 feet down on it and fired the Force Silhouette痴 thrusters, latching onto the hapless mobile suit. The Murasame痴 comrades swept in to help; a wave of beam shots forced them back and sent several of them spiraling into the ocean, and the Orb Raider Gundams moved in, beam rifles blazing. Shinn nosed the Murasame up towards the Aegis痴 open hangar and engaged the booster.

鄭re you doing what I think you池e doing? Athrun shouted. Shinn ignored him, scowling, and at the last second, plunged his beam saber into the Murasame痴 body and leapt off, rocketing up into the air. The Murasame slammed into the Aegis痴 hangar and exploded; a moment later, the Aegis went with it, taking down several nearby ships.

鄭nd there痴 our path, Shinn said flatly, as the scorched warships sank.

The Akatsuki landed with a crash on the deck of the Takemikazuchi, pointing its beam rifle at the bridge tower. Shinn landed nearby with the other Gundams, watching tensely as the Murasames circled overhead. With the enemy this close to their leader, they wouldn稚 dare attack hopefully.

笛ona Roma Seiran! Cagalli snapped, broadcasting her words to the Takemikazuchi and whatever mobile suit and ship was nearby. 的 know you池e in there! Come out and surrender!

The livid face of Jona Roma Seiran appeared on the monitor inside Shinn痴 Impulse.

滴ow dare you, Jona snarled, 殿ttacking your own people, in their own weapon, and claiming you池e doing it for Orb痴 good! Especially at a time like this!

添ou have no business being out here in the first place! Cagalli shouted back. 徹rb has no business meddling in a war between the Earth Alliance and ZAFT!

Jona sneered. 鄭re you still spouting that line? he asked, crossing his arms contemptuously. 泥id no one tell you? The world has changed, and we must change with it. He uncrossed his arms and pointed vindictively at Cagalli. 哲ow get out of our way! We have more important things to worry about than some little rebel girl like you!

添ou what? Cagalli asked.

展e are returning to Orb, Jona said, 鍍o defend it from a ZAFT invasion!

Cagalli痴 eyes widened in disbelief. 鄭ZAFT invasion?

鄭 ZAFT invasion, Jona snapped. 展e do not have the time nor the inclination to play this little game. Our country is at stake. Will you really prevent us from defending the nation we are both fighting for in our own ways? Back down at once.

纏AFT is going to invade Orb? Cagalli murmured.

的t makes sense, Athrun warned. 典hey池e losing the war and they need to relieve pressure on their allies.

展hat allies? someone, Shinn recalled his name being Yzak, snorted dismissively. 典he Muslim League痴 been ground into dust. They won稚 last another 24 hours.

添ou池e bluffing, Cagalli said, scowling back at Jona. Shinn blinked in surprise, noting that she wasn稚 nearly so confident in herself now. 纏AFT is on the retreat all over the world. They wouldn稚 waste so much energy trying to invade a country like Orb.

泥o you want to bet our country痴 life on that? Jona asked venomously. 敵o ahead, sink this ship, destroy this fleet. And then you can watch as Orb is powerless to defend itself from ZAFT! He pointed angrily at Cagalli again. 纏AFT is going to attack in five days, you fool! Get off my ship and let us go back home, or else we値l both lose the country we池e fighting for!

The Akatsuki took a heavy step back. Cagalli glared angrily at Jona, trembling.

鄭ll units, retreat, she said at last.

展hat? Athrun asked, the Justice taking an incredulous step forward.

的 said retreat! Cagalli snapped. The Akatsuki leapt into the air and took off. Shinn looked in surprise, watching the golden mobile suit race towards the Megami.

添ou heard her, Andy said loudly, the Aegis stepping towards the edge of the Takemikazuchi痴 flight deck. 展e池e retreating!

As the Gundams took off, Shinn glanced down below at the Takemikazuchi痴 bridge tower, wondering if Jona was right.

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Orb Navy supercarrier Takemikazuchi, Pacific Ocean

鄭dmiral, Todaka asked as the Orb Raiders Gundams took off with a flash, 殿re you sure we should be letting them go like this?

展hat choice do we have? Jona snarled back. 徹rder all mobile suits to return. Leave the Takisatsu behind to collect survivors and bodies from the sunken ships. The rest of the fleet will set out for Orb at once. He turned to leave, growling furiously to himself. It was a golden opportunity Cagalli had blundered right into his sights. If only he had been bluffing, he could have brought down the leaders of the Orb Raiders in one fell swoop.

Jona stalked furiously off the bridge. Todaka glanced across the sea at the Megami as it collected its mobile suits, and found himself hoping that they could forge enough of an alliance to defend Orb. It was their country, after all.

He glanced at the door Jona had just stormed out of.

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Battlecruiser Kasselheim, Pacific Ocean

鉄o ZAFT is going to attack Orb, Mev said, sitting back and crossing his arms in the captain痴 chair. 鄭n interesting new circumstance. ZAFT must be getting desperate there壮 no reason to attack Orb out of all the other nations in the Alliance.

的f we didn稚 sign on to fight a civil war, we didn稚 sign on to join the war that痴 going on now, Viima said pointedly. 鼎aptain, we can稚 afford to get sucked into this.

的知 sure Miss Athha will be coming by to make a sales pitch, Mev went on. 展e値l wait until she痴 poured her heart out for us to make a decision.

典heir debt to us will make the Atlantic Federation military jealous, Mike snorted.

鄭nd they still have yet to give us an incentive to put our necks on the chopping block, Yun added. 的t痴 not our problem if Orb goes up in smoke again. We don稚 fight wars.

典his is no ordinary war, Mev said authoritatively, silencing his crew. He glanced at Viima. 的 expect Miss Athha will be coming by shortly to try to persuade us to join her in defending Orb. Inform me when she arrives. He glanced back at the Megami. 的t seems destiny has other plans for us.

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George cast a weary glance towards Shinn as he stood on the Impulse Gundam痴 boarding gantry, staring at the hangar walls as Miki痴 GINN High Maneuver II stomped by.

展hat痴 wrong? George asked cautiously. Shinn glanced at him indifferently.

的知 getting sucked back into this war, he said, 鍍hat痴 what.

George came up next to Shinn, leaning against the railing. 的t痴 arguable that you never left it, he said.

展hat? Shinn asked, glancing angrily at George.

典he Minerva and that Alliance ship have been harassing us ever since we took you on, he said, 殿nd we致e still got your ZAFT friends following us.

Shinn looked back at the hangar wall angrily. 的 know, he said. 釘ut now we池e going to get dragged into defending Orb. He scowled. 展e池e getting dragged into Orb痴 war.

George shrugged. 典hey致e promised us quite a bit of money, he reasoned.

鄭nd what good is that? Shinn countered. 的t痴 all well and good to promise to pay us giant sums of money, but it doesn稚 mean anything until they actually pay us.

George smirked. 典rue, he admitted. 釘ut we致e been involved in all sorts of little conflicts before.

典his isn稚 a little conflict, Shinn said. 的t痴 a war. A war that痴 going to get us all killed.

George arched an eyebrow. 敵ood to see you池e keeping the faith.

Shinn clenched his fists. 的知 not going to let this ship be destroyed, he said, glowering at the hangar wall and curling his fingers around the gantry railing. 的 finally have a home. I知 not going to let it get taken away.

George stood up to leave. 展ar has a way of doing that, he said. 典he captain will make the choice he feels is best for us.

George headed back down the gantry. Shinn stayed behind, glowering. Kira and his Freedom Gundam and his little self-righteous war had taken away his last home. It would not happen again.

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Atlantic Federation battleship Girty Lue, Pacific Ocean

添ou池e making progress, at least, Lee said, trying to be encouraging, as Sting and Auel gasped for breath in the chairs in front of his desk. 添ou池e lasting longer and longer through the repetitions of your block words.

的t痴 taking so long, Auel muttered angrily.

哲obody said it wouldn稚, Lee countered. He checked his computer terminal. 的t痴 getting harder to cook up fake data to keep your engineers unaware.

展e値l worry about that, Sting breathed. 添ou just keep doing what you致e been doing. We池e getting there.

Lee nodded soberly. He activated his monitor, sitting back in his chair as he flipped through news channels.

纏AFT attempted to reinforce its Carpentaria base with forces from its Antarctic base today, an anchor announced emotionlessly, 澱ut their reinforcements were beaten back by the Earth Alliance forces in the area. This marks the sixth day of the Earth Alliance痴 siege

典hey池e finished, Sting said quietly. Lee glanced at him. 纏AFT won稚 last much longer, will they?

Lee looked back at the screen. 哲ot on Earth, he said. 的n space it will be a different story. ZAFT has most of its strength in space. We値l have to see how far our momentum can carry us. He shut the monitor off. 展hat are you planning on doing once your block words are broken?

Sting and Auel glanced at each other, and then back at Lee. He studied their faces for a moment and nodded.

的 see, he said.
展e don稚 want to implicate you in anything, Sting began.

Lee arched an amused eyebrow. 的mplicate me in what? he asked with a small smile.

Auel smirked back. 摘xactly.

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Battlecruiser Kasselheim, Pacific Ocean

Cagalli cast a suspicious glance across the bridge of the Kasselheim at Shinn. He glared back, but neither said anything. Cagalli stepped forward, towards Mev, who sat in his chair, regarding Cagalli impassively.

的 had a feeling you would come over here to try to sway us, Mev said. He gestured for Cagalli to speak. She looked uncomfortable at being directed, and glanced back at Athrun, Mwu, and Andy. They nodded to her; Athrun cast a wary glance at Shinn.
纏AFT is going to attack Orb in five days, she said, 殿nd we致e inflicted a lot of damage on the Takemikazuchi Fleet, which is going to be instrumental in defending Orb. We don稚 want to rely on the Earth Alliance for help, since there痴 no guarantee that they値l send any troops to help defend Orb. It痴 our country, and right now it faces a threat greater and more pressing than the Seirans. So we are setting course for Orb to help defend it from ZAFT.

展e figured that was what you were going to do, Miss Athha, Mev interrupted. 鄭nd we figured that you would come over here and try to persuade us to go with you. He paused. 的f you don稚 mind, start persuading.

添ou池e pirates, she said. 徹utlaws. You don稚 have a home. You just wander around on this ship. If you help us defend Orb and retake it from the Seirans, we値l give you a home.

展e already have one, Shinn spoke up. Athrun put a warning hand on Cagalli痴 shoulder before she could do anything. 展hy should we put it in jeopardy for your civil war?

Cagalli took a moment to calm herself. 的n Orb you wouldn稚 have to protect anyone, she said.

Shinn snorted dismissively. 哲owhere in the world is there gonna be a place where I won稚 have to fight, he said. 哲ot unless Orb will somehow change the way people are.

典hat痴 not what we池e trying to do, Athrun said quickly. 展e池e just trying to create a place where there痴 another way.

添ou don稚 seem to be speaking our language, Mev noted.

典here has to be a higher purpose you池e fighting for than money! Cagalli exclaimed, whirling around to face Mev.

滴igher purposes don稚 feed crews and repair engines, Mev countered. 展e can稚 just go running to the Junk Guild to give us supplies and fix our ship. We have more worldly problems to take care of first.

Cagalli looked aside angrily. 展e値l triple your pay, she growled.

徹ur already tripled pay, Mev corrected. 釘ut are you going to give in that easily? Cagalli blinked and looked back up at Mev. 撤ay us now and we will go with you.

展hat? Viima exclaimed, standing up. 鼎aptain

摘nough, Mev cut her off. 溺iss Athha, I demand our payment up front. We will not play this waiting game with our just desserts any longer. Provide our payment now and we will accompany you to Orb and assist you in the nation痴 defense. He extended a hand. 泥o we have a deal?

Cagalli looked at his hand hesitantly. She glanced back at Athrun; he nodded, and she slowly shook Mev痴 hand. 展e do, she said.

Shinn watched in disbelief as the Orb Raiders shuffled off the bridge. Viima leapt to her feet once they had left.

鼎aptain! she shouted. 展e can稚 go fight a war with them! We池e out of our league!

典his was the only way to ensure that they would actually pay us and not just string us along with promises, Mev countered. He glanced pointedly at Shinn. 釘esides, he added, 努e致e been part of the war for a while now.

Shinn scowled and stalked off the bridge.

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ZAFT Eternal-class cruiser Deliverance, Pacific Ocean

鼎aptain, the communications officer said, 努e have a priority message from the Minerva.

撤atch it through, the captain of the Deliverance, Davis, said as he sat up in his seat. Above him, Rau Le Creuset leaned back, draping one leg over the other and gazing out the windows with an amused smile as the Deliverance glided forward underwater.

湯We have ascertained the position of the pirate ship harboring Shinn Asuka and are relaying you their last known location, speed, and bearing,樗 the communication officer read. The coordinates appeared on the screen over Rau痴 seat; his smile got a little wider.

鏑ock those coordinates into the computer, he ordered. 的nform the hangar to prepare our machines. We値l be launching tomorrow morning.

添es sir, the captain answered, picking up his intercom.

Rau sat back, smiling.

You致e grown up since we last met, Shinn, he thought amusedly. Time to see if you池e the big bad Newtype that Gilbert thought you would be.

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To be continued